Ann Johnson is Pro-Choice, Sarah Davis is Not

I strongly encourage residents of Texas House District 134 to vote for Ann Johnson for state representative in the upcoming election. If women’s health, reproductive rights, and bodily integrity are important to you, Ann Johnson is the candidate who deserves your support.

She’s also the candidate for you if you care not one whit about women’s reproductive health, but are concerned about responsible fiscal policy. And, if you want to make sure that the money Texans pay in federal taxes actually comes back to benefit Texans, instead of flowing to other states, then again, Ann Johnson is your candidate.

Rights are meaningless unless you have access, and in Texas, access to basic reproductive health care comes primarily through Planned Parenthood. Being pro-choice means being pro-Planned Parenthood.

Sarah Davis is not. She is anti-choice and anti-Planned Parenthood.

Sarah Davis is on record voting against Planned Parenthood. And that stance has dire fiscal consequences for all Texans in addition to the personal, medical consequences it has for the women who depend upon Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare.

Sarah Davis is not pro-choice. She is when it comes to her own healthcare, as she has admitted that she feels very strongly about the care she receives, but being pro-choice means you respect the choices all women make, even if they are different from your own. It also means, especially if you are a state representative, that you must work to make sure they can access the care they need, even if it is not the care you would seek.

Again, Sarah Davis is on record as opposing Planned Parenthood:

She last year backed banning Planned Parenthood clinics from the health program because of their affiliation to those who perform abortions, although the clinics themselves don’t provide abortions. The ban already was on the books but hadn’t been enforced.

Asked if she still thinks it was a good decision to back the ban, Davis said, “Oh, gosh, it’s a hard question, and I think about that vote a lot. I just think that there is so much controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood that I think that was the right vote to make at the time.”

Let me be clear. Her vote blocked Planned Parenthood from participating in a program that provides well-woman care, including contraceptive care, for some of the poorest women in the state. The Women’s Health Program funds, by law, cannot be used for abortion. The Planned Parenthood clinics providing the services do not themselves provide abortions, as the clinics that do are entirely separate legal entities. All clinics regularly undergo extensive state audits, both scheduled and unscheduled, that repeatedly prove that funds are being spent in accordance with all state, federal, and local rules and regulations.

Planned Parenthood has been a trusted healthcare provider in District 134 since 1936. But oh, gosh, it was a hard question?

No, it was an easy question. Allowing Planned Parenthood to provide care under the Women’s Health Program, as it has been doing for years to almost 40% of the women who participate in it, would have saved the State of Texas an estimated $57M a year by preventing unplanned births. Allowing Planned Parenthood to participate in the Women’s Health Program allowed Texas to take advantage of a 9-to-1 federal match under a provision that said for every $1 the state spent providing Medicaid services to women, the federal government would reimburse the state $9.

Sarah Davis, who is personally and politically opposed to abortion, voted to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortion from the Women’s Health Program, a program which, by providing preventive contraceptive care, can actually prevent women from having unintended and unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Sarah Davis knew when she cast that vote that the State of Texas would lose eligibility for the 9-to-1 federal reimbursement. She cast that vote anyway.

This was not a blow for freedom, or a strike against “socialized” medicine, as she erroneously refers to Medicaid and other government-funded healthcare programs. This was a reckless vote that will send more women to emergency rooms for care when they are unable to get preventive services elsewhere, placing even more strain on a medical system that, without Planned Parenthood in the mix, is unable to cope with patient loads.

Do not be fooled. The long list of alternate Women’s Health Program providers the state holds out is not what it seems. The fabulous Andrea Grimes polled 181 clinics on the list for Austin, and learned that only 13 were actually ready, willing, and able to accept WHP clients. That’s 7%. A quick glance at the Houston list shows that it, too, is populated with duplicate listings and specialists who don’t do pap smears and blood pressure checks. If you talk to doctors, hospitals, and people who work in healthcare, they admit that they will try as hard as they can, but that some do not have the capacity to absorb these additional clients, while others lack the funds.

Ann Johnson outlines extensively on her website exactly what she believes when it comes to choice, women’s rights, and Planned Parenthood. Ann Johnson is pro-choice.

Sarah Davis dodges the issue with a short statement using campaign boilerplate. Sarah Davis is anti-choice.

With her “gosh, it’s a hard question” public posturing, she seems to be trying to appease pro-choice constituents, holding out vague hope that she might change her mind.

Do not be fooled. What a candidate will say to get votes does not translate into how that candidate will vote when the rubber meets the road. We have her actual record, and her actual record shows she will vote against Planned Parenthood.

When she has political cover, she might vote in a way that suggests she’s had a change of heart, but we cannot risk letting her have another term, because we don’t need legislators who are pro-choice only when they have political cover.

We need Ann Johnson representing District 134, standing up for women, not Sarah Davis, standing up for Sarah Davis, or standing up only when she has political cover to help her play both sides of the issue.

Get in touch with Ann’s campaign. Give her money. Come to our fundraiser on October 9th. Stop by to meet her. Make calls. Tell your friends. Put up a sign. Help get the word out. It doesn’t matter if you live in her district or not—this is a seat we can win, but we need to get pro-choice voters to the polls in the district, so get busy.

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